A Continuing Legacy

EartHand Gleaners has just received a very generous donation of equipment to both keep and move into our community of fibre folks. It seems a moment should be taken to publicly acknowledge what will be a bounty for so many in our fibre community!

It is an honour and privilege to accept from the estate of Masami Yesaki both her beautiful spinning wheel and drum carder for community use during program times, as well as to move two looms into our community of skill seekers.

Spinning wheels, Masami, and our community have a history which makes this donation that much more poignant, here is the story:

‘Masami, a spinner and weaver whom I had met only once, passed away in early January 2013. Our mutual friend Penny asked me if I could do something: create a small outdoor monument or weave something with a group. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted but recognized her own need for a mourning ritual –  something that would resonate not just in the moment, but longer term as well. Masami had emigrated to Canada from Japan, and her ashes were being returned to Japan according to her wishes. That meant no place for visiting and remembering Masami for friends and loved ones here. The idea for a planted, living willow spinning wheel made a lot of sense. In fact, Penny and I are hard-pressed to know whose idea it was in the first place. I had just begun the project of creating a new cloth garden bed at Aberthau house, the place where the spinners and weavers guild that Masami belonged to, had met. … one Saturday afternoon about seven of us met up, and over four hours we constructed a simple, three-legged spinning wheel sculpture.

Working with Masami’s husband and friends, we created each leg by planting about eight willow rods spaced about 15 cm (6 inches) apart in the shape of a circle. Each leg made from its own willow circle was woven in an under over rhythm all the way up the willow rods.

We braided the spinning wheel itself by making a very long flat braid that could join on itself to become a circle.

We made up how the structure needed to come together in the center as we went along, engineering on the fly.

Lots of brains worked in different ways as to how to best bring about the basic idea of the piece as I had described to it to the group. Aside from group problem solving, there were moments of quiet reflection as well as storytelling, sharing memories of Masami. More than once there was laughter when the group thought we might have her approval on how we were faring with the task at hand.’

Excerpt from Common Threads: weaving community through eco-art by Sharon Kallis (published by New Society Publishers) Chapter 5

That ephemeral wheel has since disappeared, and we are elated to have her working wheel now in our community.

Masami Yesaki
November 5, 1951 – January 10, 2013
On a bright winter day Masami’s cheerful face and spirit came to serene rest. Predeceased by her parents, Takeshi and Kimiko Maruki, she is survived by her husband of 34 years, Arthur, brothers Yoshimasa (Ayako) and Masafumi (Kazuko), nephews Ryo and Yuto and the extended Yesaki family. Arriving in Canada, she continued her childhood practice of the Japanese tea ceremony and became a member of The Urasenke Vancouver Association. She developed an interest in spinning, weaving and dyeing, and joined The Greater Vancouver Spinners and Weavers Guild. Her naturally open and friendly manner endeared her to everyone.

~from the Vancouver Sun and Province obituary column